Seven Ways Purpose-Built Nurse Scheduling Beats One-Size-Fits-All

April 18, 2022 Lynne Jackson

Everyday thousands of healthcare workers check their employee schedule, punch into work, and submit scheduling requests. In the background, administrators review schedules, tally attendance, identify open shifts, and search for replacements.

Nurse scheduling software can help long-term care operators automate manual employee scheduling tasks while time clocks and attendance management software keep track of employee attendance.

But is that enough?

 Why purpose-built matters

Although these rudimentary functions streamline tedious tasks, they often leave plenty of paper-based nurse scheduling fixes and compliance tracking processes in place.

Maybe it’s time to evaluate whether your nurse scheduling software promotes the following business goals or simply maintains the status quo.

  • Reduce operational costs.
  • Promote high quality care while simultaneously preventing overtime.
  • Improve your reputation.
  • Increase Medicare reimbursements.
  • Streamline operations and improve employee engagement.

Can a one-size-fits-all workforce management solution do all this while improving employee engagement? Not likely.

To achieve optimum results, you need a workforce management purpose-built for your needs. Check out the seven ways purpose-built workforce management empowers long-term care facilities.

1.  Automatic nurse scheduling that accommodates changing PPD Census Values

Sure, one-size-fits-all nurse scheduling software can create nurse schedules based on your employee base and scheduling history. But most cannot automatically generate schedules that support strict federal and state staffing requirements for post-acute care and long-term care facilities. They’re just not designed to this easily as they’re made to support a broader healthcare industry with different considerations.

Whereas a solution designed exclusively for long-term care and post-acute care facilities targets your needs in a way that’s easy to use and efficient. It can support Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements without manual intervention.

At best, one-size-fits-all solutions are awkward to use, at worse they’re ineffective and put you at risk.

When your Patient Per Day (PPD) values shift as resident population and acuity needs change, will your nurse schedules change to support them—without ANY intervention from you. If you deploy a purpose-built nurse scheduling and time tracking system, then yes.

But if you rely on an one-size-fits-all workforce management solution, you’ll likely have to manually make the adjustments or risk noncompliance.

Purpose-built systems put the right people in the right place at the right time and provide at-a-glance views of live staffing across your enterprise.


2.  Self-scheduling tools that eliminate nurse scheduling gaps fast

Anyone working in long-term care knows filling open shifts is a constant struggle.  You can schedule perfectly but when employees call out or the residents needs change, you must  quickly adjust nurse schedules.

Wouldn’t you rather your nurse scheduling system automatically identify scheduling gaps in real-time, recommend qualified employees able to fill them and offer them the shifts for you?

Because they fully integrate nurse scheduling and attendance systems, purpose-built solutions, like SmartLinx, present real-time staffing for all your facilities on one dashboard and let you drilldown for details. You can quickly spot scheduling gaps and get a list of qualified employees available to fill each shift. With a simple click of the mouse, you can offer the shifts to select employees.  

The system does the rest, collecting, sorting and presenting responses with a clear audit trail in near real-time.

Empower nurses to prevent gaps

You can take nurse scheduling to the next level when put the power to prevent and fill open shifts in your employees’ hands. Operators use mobile shift management apps to increase productivity and engagement. The apps not only let employees access up-to-date nurse schedules, but they also allow employees to make scheduling changes anytime, anyplace. They can access live nurse schedules, find an open shift and send a shift request in moments. If a nurse can’t work a scheduled shift, they can ask a co-worker to swap shifts.  

The workforce management system immediately presents you (and all authorized managers) shift change and swap request to approve.

3.  Centralized two-way employee communications that engage employees 

Many workforce management systems let employees access schedules and submit PTO and other requests. Some even use mobile apps to make access easier.

Nurse scheduling that’s purpose-built for senior care employees does this and more. The mobile workforce management apps keep employee experience and priorities front and center with an icon-based interface that’s simple to manipulate. In just a couple of clicks, employees can:

  • Submit a shift request.
  • Swap shifts with a co-worker.
  • Request PTO.
  • Access their paystubs.
  • Update their employee information.

Workforce management systems with centralized messaging also enable employees to easily communicate with their managers by SMS text messages without having to open the mobile app. They can quickly text their manager, who can give access to other authorized managers to ensure every message is read immediately. 

SmartLinx Message Centers  sorts and organizes all SMS text messages and consolidates them in easy-to-access threads with clear audit trails. No more hunting through call logs or message threads to find responses and match them to the appropriate business need. A message icon appears on the top of each screen to indicate new messages.

4.  Integrated nurse scheduling and attendance that cuts costs

If last year showed us anything, it’s how fast things can change, especially in the senior care world.  COVID-19 stretched resources as staffing shortages soared. employee turnover skyrocketed to 135% in many senior care facilities as employees struggled to care for their families and residents while protecting themselves from COVD-19.

Administrators didn’t have time to hunt though one-size-fits-all employee scheduling systems and disjointed time tracking systems to find scheduling gaps and people to fill them and often turned to the same committed employees to take on extra shifts and then called agency staff to fill open ones.  

Costs to cover rising labor and PPE costs soared while occupancy rates dropped. As operators seek to recover from the pandemic, they need technology that can contain labor costs without compromising quality care. One-size-fits-all workforce management systems lack the ease of use, flexibility and transparency needed to contain labor costs and maintain staffing levels. Without real-time integration between key functions, administrators cannot instantly identify and correct staffing issues.

Fortunately, purpose-built workforce management systems, like SmartLinx, fully integrate nurse scheduling, attendance tracking, and compliance tracking. Administrators can view live staffing, compliance, cost, and HR information on one centralized console with full transparency into past, present, and projected costs.

“With two people overseeing schedules for 110 facilities, we cannot look at every facility individually and identify single issues Being able to look at the whole organization without having to go in and look at each facility’s schedule is enormously helpful,” said Christine Sils, Director of Clinical Programs at Trilogy.

How to cut overtime costs

Before you can reduce overtime and agency costs, you must identify who can fill new open shifts without incurring overtime or violating company policies, such as union rules. Nurse scheduling and attendance software purpose-built for senior care does this.

SmartLinx identifies open shifts as they happen and lists employees able to fill them without overtime. Per your approval, it will automatically offer the shift to employees and manage their responses.

5.   Automated PBJ reporting that proves compliance on demand

Traditional workforce management systems collected compliance information days, weeks or even months after the shifts were worked. This process took days or weeks to complete. However, purpose-built system with integrated compliance tracking and Payroll-Based Journal reporting does this automatically every day.

When it’s time to generate the quarterly Payroll-Based Journal reports, administrators can cut Payroll-Based Journal Reporting time from 60 to two minutes.

Efficiently creating quarterly Payroll-Based Journal reports is not enough to satisfy state and federal regulators. Regulators are stepping up surprise audits of skilled nursing facilities in 2021.  Inspectors expect proof of staffing compliance immediately and may allege noncompliance and expect you to prove otherwise instantly. SmartLinx enables you to demonstrate compliance for any date in moments. .


6.  Tools that Predict and Improve CMS Five-Star Ratings

If you operate long-term care and post-acute facilities, your reputation rises and falls on your Five-Star Rating. CMS established the Five-Star Rating system to help consumers compare skilled nursing facilities based on the quality measurements. Facilities are judged by three criteria with staffing being the most challenging bar to consistently meet.

To achieve a high rating, you must consistently staff their facilities based on PPD census values and resident healthcare needs. To do so, you need an integrated nursing scheduling, attendance tracking, and compliance system that can:

  • Create and adjusts nurse schedules to meet PPD demands.
  • Expose scheduling gaps as soon they happen with real-time attendance tracking.
  • Track compliance to CMS criteria in real-time and identify shortages before they affect the rating.

To improve your Five-Star Rating, you must monitor your staffing against Five-Star Rating requirements, proactively predict potential shortfalls, and implement corrective measures before you fall out of compliance. Purpose-built workforce management systems, like SmartLinx Spotlight with Five-Star Predictor, can:

  • Track enterprise-wide trends.
  • Identify over and understaffing at all units at-a-glance.
  • Predict your ability to achieve your desired Five-Star Rating at any time.
  • Alert you when your staffing falls below your desired rating.
  • Recommend what you can do to remediate problems and improve your rating.

7.   Time Clocks that safeguard residents and enforce attendance policies

All time clocks are not created equal. Those purpose-built for senior care can do a lot more than track employee attendance. SmartLinx Advanced Timeclock for Employees (SLATE) can help protect residents and staff from infection and advance your business goals.

As the first point of contact in a facility, time clocks can harbor a lot of germs despite constant cleaning. SLATE enables employees to enter punch requirements on the SmartLinx Go mobile app, which generates a time sensitive QR code. When employees hold up the QR code in front of the clock to punch in,  SLATE automatically takes employee temperatures and blocks access to anyone with a fever.

SLATE also promotes social distancing because it lets workers punch in and out six times faster than standard time clocks, thereby reducing long lines during shift changes.

Containing costs at the clock

Since SLATE is fully integrated with the nurse scheduling and attendance management software, it can compare employee punches with the nurse schedule in real-time and automatically enforce attendance management policies. For example, the time clock prevents buddy punches, unscheduled punches, and early punches. Find out how to set your time clock to advance your goals.

Innovate to accelerate with nurse scheduling, attendance and compliance tracking tailor made for senior care.

Learn more, request a free demo.

Previous Article
How These 10 Female Leaders Thrived In Tech and Grew Their Companies
How These 10 Female Leaders Thrived In Tech and Grew Their Companies

10 female business leaders offer authentic advice and growth strategies tailored to the tech industry. | Sm...

Next Article
Put Time on Your Side: Four Ways a Time Clock Can Fast Forward Your Goals
Put Time on Your Side: Four Ways a Time Clock Can Fast Forward Your Goals

Next-generation time clocks are transforming long-term care's employee management practices and advancing k...


Subscribe to Smartlinx News and Latest Industry Insights

First Name
Last Name
You've been subscribed! Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!